Mystery Oil: What's Really Inside This Box?

My husband and I were given a countertop fryer for a wedding present. It's been a fabulous piece of equipment but it does have one drawback. The oil. It's wicked expensive and the fryer requires a great deal of it. To make the most of things we throw fry parties where friends and family bring veggies to tempura, french fries or fish to throw in and possibly candy bars. Hey, I never claimed it was a healthy event.

We're always on the lookout for inexpensive oil and this time of year with all the turkey frying that happens, peanut oil goes on sale every week — somewhere. So when we happened upon this green box (on sale for $18.99 at the time) we were excited and then suddenly confused. Can you guess why?

For the most part, the oil found in bulk quantities intended for turkey frying will be peanut oil. It has a smoke point between 320 and 450 depending on if it's refined or not. So when we checked out this package we suddenly realized we didn't really know what kind of oil it was. It didn't say!

After reading the (super) fine print, it was determined that the contents were cottonseed oil. What is cottonseed oil? It's exactly what it says it is. The oil extracted from the cotton plant and seeds. It has a smoke point of 420 degrees which is pretty perfect for frying most things.

This trip to the store was an adventure in making sure you read the label and is a good reminder that great packaging and marketing can lead you to buy anything if you don't have your super sleuth detective glasses on. Have you ever purchased something, got it home and realized it wasn't what you thought it was?

Related: How To Make Tempura Fried Vegetables At Home

(Image: Sarah Rae Trover)

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Sarah Trover has lived all across the Midwest and currently calls the hot dog-laden city of Chicago home. She rides scooters and seeks out kitchens that make the best pie.